Saturday, 23 August 2014

Cinnamon swirl banana bread

Ok, so I'm not liking this whole posting only once a week thing. It always seems like an eternity since I last blogged on here. And I seem to have found my cooking mojo again. So I may go back to occasionally sneak in a mid-week post as well, depending on how things go. And I have at least two new recipes I want to try this weekend, which if they turn out to be successful, I may want to share.

Other than cooking mojo this has been a crazy week. I have been blown away by the generosity of people. In my current job, one of the things I do is co-ordinate biomedical research studies, and one aspect of that is to invite volunteers to come to the Blood Donor Centre to give a blood sample for our studies (oh and there is another study where we actually take a skin sample, but that is another story). Anyhow, I just fired up a new study, and was all of a sudden told that I need to get in 30 people before the end of September. I said there is no way in you know where that is ever going to happen. But then I got this huge tidal wave of responses from the invited volunteers, and all but two of them so far have been "yes, I would be happy to participate". So it might be we will be able to pull off a miracle and actually get 30 of them in during September. I am blown away how far people are willing to travel to come to us to participate, and how they are happy to even take a whole day off work just to come and give a blood sample. Working with these amazing people keep restoring my failing faith in humanity.

What never fails is my fascination for cake. I know it's a bit unimaginative to publish two cake recipes in a row (I hope you didn't miss my courgette and lemon bread last week). Oh wait, it's not cake, it's bread. That's ok then isn't it? Two bread recipes in a row. This little baby is where bananas go right before they would go into the bin. When they look ugly and black, but have all that lovely sweetness that will make this loaf taste heavenly. 

I have used the recipe almost unchanged from the Lovin' From the Oven blog. The only change I made was to use 2 bananas instead of 3 in the original recipe. But my bananas were huge so I think they more or less were equivalent to three punier bananas. Make sure they are over ripe, that's where all the sweetness comes from. Plenty of those pesky black dots on the peel, that's how you know they are good to go. And I love that all the ingredients are basic stuff, most likely to be in your kitchen any time those bananas threaten to turn too black, to satisfy a sweet craving at any time over-ripe bananas are available. And all you need is one bowl, do a bit of a mix and it's all ready to go in the oven.

Banana bread (makes one loaf):

2 over-ripe bananas, mushed with a fork
75 g melted butter
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (I used vanilla paste)
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour

For the swirl:

1/3 cup sugar (I used muscovado)
2 tbsp cinnamon

The howto:

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 F). Butter a loaf tin (I used my silicon loaf tin as it saves the trouble of preparing it). Mix the smashed bananas with the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. If you want to be fancy, you can mix the soda, salt and flour in another bowl, but to save me from doing dishes, I just tossed them right in and gave a gentile stir, making sure not to over mix. Combine the ingredients for the swirl separately. Add half of the batter into the loaf tin, sprinkle over half of the cinnamon sugar and add the rest of the batter. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean (mine took 60 minutes to bake).

The Verdict:
I've tried a few different recipes for banana loaf. And while none of them are bad, I never felt like I really understood why others were so into banana bread. After baking this, I can honesty say I finally understand what the hype is all about. It's deliciously moist, and the cinnamon swirl and cinnamon topping go perfectly with the banana. Some banana breads I have made are too "banana-y", this is just perfectly balanced. Sweet and a touch of banana, but not overwhelming. The comment from the Culinary Consultant "You can make this banana bread any time you like". While scoffing down his slice. I could imagine adding a handful of dark chocolate chips would be perfect in the batter, but it's also heavenly as is. Oh and as usual I apologise for the suboptimal photos, but I just took a quick snap as I was very busy getting to the actual eating part. You will understand what I mean when you make it, the scent of the bread is just unbelievable!

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